Below is a statement by Europe's main LGBT right group - ILGA-Europe, in relation to the resolution adopted by PACE on Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan are members of the Council of Europe and PACE, and this resolution applies to all South Caucasus countries. Read my previous post on some Armenian reactions.
3 May 2010
For immediate release
Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly strongly condemns discrimination against LGBT people in Europe
On 29 April 2010, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a Resolution on Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This is the second time in a few weeks that a major Council of Europe institution has come out strongly in support of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people: on 31 March 2010, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe unanimously adopted a historic Recommendation on measures to combat discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. [see my relevant post here]
ILGA-Europe welcomes the adoption of this Resolution which addresses all the major issues of discrimination against LGBT people and encourages the 47 member states of the Council of Europe to take steps to fight such discrimination.
The adopted Resolution points to an extensive range of human rights violations affecting the lives of millions of people which still take place within the member states of the Council of Europe.
Freedom of assembly and expression: the Resolution calls these rights pillars of democracy and calls upon member states to ensure these rights are respected in line with international human rights standards.
Hate speech: the Resolution identifies hate speech by certain politicians, religious and other civil society leaders as well as hate speech in the media and internet as being of particular concern. It condemns hate speech and discriminatory statements and calls for effective protection for LGBT people from such statements.
Hate crime: the resolution stresses that the eradicating of homophobia and transphobia requires political will in member states and calls for provision of legal remedies to victims and putting an end to impunity for those who violate fundamental rights of LGBT people to life and security.
Anti-discrimination: the Resolution calls upon member states to adopt and implement anti-discrimination legislation which includes sexual orientation and gender identity among the prohibited grounds for discrimination and provide sanctions for infringement and effective reporting mechanisms for cases of discrimination.
Transgender people: the Resolution particularly highlights the cycle of discrimination and human rights deprivation that transgender people experience. The Resolution calls for specific measures by member states to ensure that identity documents should be changed to reflect a person's preferred gender identity without prior obligation to undergo sterilisation or other medical procedures such as gender reassignment surgery and hormonal therapy.
Young people: the Resolution stresses the particularly serious consequences of homophobia and transphobia for young LGBT people and underlines the importance of not criticising the perceived or declared sexual orientation of young people, particularly of those under the age of 18.
LGBT families: the Resolution points out that the denial of rights to de facto LGBT families in some member states must be addressed through legal recognition and protections of those families. Regretfully, the Resolution calls for the legal recognition of same-sex partnerships only when national legislation envisages such recognition.
Parenting: the Resolution calls for the possibility for joint parental responsibility of each partner’s children bearing in mind the best interests of children.
Asylum: the Resolution calls upon member states to recognise persecution of LGBT people as a ground for granting asylum.
Additionally, the parliamentarians urge the Council of Europe to allocate resources to work on LGBT issues, and to include violence against LBT women in the drafting of its proposed Violence against Women Convention.
Evelyne Paradis, Executive Director of ILGA-Europe’ said:
“This is a very significant development and in a space of one month we see two major Council of Europe institutions adopting comprehensive documents not just strongly condemning discrimination against LGBT people but mapping how the 47 member states should address such discrimination.
We believe this is a solid foundation and a valuable practical tool helping the Council of Europe’s member states develop their laws, policies and practices towards elimination of discrimination against LGBT people and ensuring their fundamental human rights.
Moreover, we believe the Council of Europe has made it crystal clear that homophobia, transphobia, discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity are completely unacceptable in Europe and need to be tackled head on.”